Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


HTSA Sees Custom Rebound


The worst of the recession appears to be
over, executives and members of the Home Technology
Specialists of America (HTSA) reported, with new luxury
home construction and big-ticket installations leading the
way out of the economic rut.

“We’re well beyond the bottom,” observed executive
director Richard Glikes during the group’s annual “Autumn
Pump Up” meeting, held here at The Ritz-Carlton
earlier this month. Glikes based his assessment on the
growing number of large home-installation projects group
members are undertaking, including many high six-figure
to seven-figure jobs. And mid-price projects, he said, are
sure to follow.

Russell Kim, principal of Audio Dimensions, concurred.
“I think we hit bottom in 2010,” he said – but not before
the recession had claimed two thirds of his nine showrooms.
“It’s not pretty. In fact it’s pretty ugly. But we’ve
reorganized for the ‘new normal’ and are starting to turn
a slight profit.”

Kim expects business will begin to come back next year
with the return of the luxury housing market, but it won’t be
like it was. “We all need to find a way to survive until the
recovery,” he said.

For The Little Guys in greater Chicago, the solution
came through a serendipitous dispute with the dealer’s
former landlord, resulting in a new and better location in
Mokena, Ill. While the business climate still “stinks,” the
company gained a new and higher-income customer base
while keeping many of its former patrons, co-owner David
Wexler told TWICE.

Given the cost reductions that group
members have implemented over the last
two years, added Glikes, “We’re at a point
where we can make money. It will be easy
to make a profit with any pop in business.”

That pop can’t come too soon for
HTSA, whose annual revenue has declined
$200 million from its pre-recession
peak three years ago, when members
enjoyed 20 percent to 30 percent compounded

Despite the marketplace turbulence,
HTSA’s membership ranks have remained
fairly stable, with less than a handful of net
losses, Glikes reported. “We’re nimble
but solid,” he said, comparing the group
to a gourmet meal and Best Buy to Mc-
Donald’s. “Some people want more than
a cheeseburger — they want a different

Driving growth this holiday season will
be 3D TV and hot new services like Apple’s
revamped Apple TV. While unit sales
of 3D TV haven’t lived up to expectations,
the new technology “got people asking
questions,” Glikes said. HTSA traditionally
sells vendors’ top-of-the-line models,
he noted, and those platforms, including
the Sharp 925, Panasonic VT and Sony
NX810 series, largely feature 3D this year.

The Little Guy’s Wexler added that Skype
video conferencing via Panasonic’s latest
IPTV lineup is proving to be an even
more popular app. “It’s a killer — everyone
loves it,” he said.

Still, members need to broaden their
mix to compete effectively in the marketplace,
and Glikes is disappointed by the
group’s slow adoption of solar power,
energy management, mobile and home
healthcare. “Many businesses were in
survival mode for the last year and a half
and were averse to risk,” he said. “But
these are categories we have to be in.”